When any new Netflix series comes along, social media goes into a frenzy of opinions, memes and good old fashioned reviews. And it was no different when 13 Reasons Why became the newest member of the elite ‘Netflix Series Club’.
As a devout Selena Gomez fan (Gomez is the executive producer of the show) I knew all about the upcoming series long before its release. I was very tempted to read the novel written by Jay Asher before watching the series, yet after the hype of the newest addition to Netflix commenced I was too tempted and wanted to watch the series without knowing any of the twists and turns, so I ignored the nagging at the back of my head that screams “read the book first!”, and jumped into the first episode.
Don’t hate me; after the first episode I wasn’t completely enthralled and ended up taking a week long break. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the episode, because I did, it was that it all moved at a slow pace. Yet my best friend, who had already finished the entire season, told me to watch the second episode as after that you are ‘hooked’. And boy was she right! One week later I watched the second episode as well as the entire season in just two days.
After watching that second episode I was left in a trance just repeatedly pressing ‘next episode’ until I had to physically get up and walk away from the laptop because my brain went to mush after so many hours of watching such an emotional, thrilling and yes, enthralling, series.
The series follows the story of a teenage girl by the name of Hannah Baker who has killed herself. Without ruining the entire story line, Hannah has left a series of tapes calling out the names of 13 people whom she blames for her suicide. The tapes get passed along from classmate to classmate until it lands in the bewildered hands of the ever-so-sweet Clay Jensen (who always had a crush on Hannah). The show kicks off with his discovery of the tapes and the rest of the 13-hour story switches between flashbacks and the current day as Clay unravels the mystery of Hannah’s death and what part he played in her decision.
The series tackles a number of hard and heavy topics that needed to be discussed and portrayed the way they were in 13 Reasons Why, with no barriers or rose tinted glasses; just the hard hitting truth of devastating problems that teens face on a daily basis. The heavy topics the series deals with include drunk driving, sexual assault, bullying and, of course, teenage suicide.
I came away from the 13 hours of pure intensity and I couldn’t stop thinking about it! All I could think about was how the characters were knowingly and unknowingly leading Hannah to take her own life. And all I could then think about was how careful you need to be when talking to someone. Something said in the series more than once really stuck in my head: “You never know what is happening in someone else’s life”. It is so true. Saying something to someone that seems like nothing could actually cut deep with them and affect them so much more than you think.
There was a ‘meme’ that went around twitter making fun out of people who were saying 13 Reasons Why taught them to be nice, and fair enough your niceties towards someone should be a given, but 13 Reasons Why really did change my thought process. It not so much taught me to be ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ but it taught me that words should never be thrown around lightly and that something you think is insignificant could be the complete opposite to someone else!
After watching the series, I messaged my friend an absolute emotional wreck and said this is something I will definitely make my future kids watch when they’re at the right age because it teaches such an important lesson and really puts life into perspective.
Words by Maija Lily